Sunday, 28 April 2013

Devils in the Torchlight

Been going through Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 (pretty much a Diablo clone) on and off with my guildies and I've gotta say these two similar games so I thought I'd write up a quick comparison review.


Style and Story:
While both have the mostly unchangable eagle-eye camera view during gameplay, Torchlight 2 takes the more cartoony approach to its graphics and very rare (and flash like) cutscene(s). I prefer the sharp grittiness of Diablo 3, and the cool story and uber awesome cutscenes that go with it. Blizzard has pretty much perfected that part. :P

Places to See, Things to Do:
D3 has a mostly procedurally generated map. It and the baddies repopulate each time you start a session it seems. This is cool in that you can run into some interesting traps and people you haven't met before. However given it's nature, there is no real point (other than farming) to enter non-main story related instances. Even if you do it's not like it will matter because that dungeon you cleared may not even exist in the next session anyway.

T2 has a set map, even for its dungeons I think which means you can memorize paths and where secret rooms are etc. The baddies actually do respawn (not sure on the timer, possibly 1hr or some other trigger) within a single session, but the difference is that every dungeon actually has a purpose, a quest, or quest item that you need/probably want. Sure the monsters can respawn after and you can go back to farm but once you're done with a dungeon there's that sense of accomplishment that you don't need to go back in there again. For me T2 wins this section.

Party and Levels:
In D3 it allows for a party of 4 to face the demons of hell, give or take some NPCs depending on your current quest. Also, XP gain is scaled so that a lev 20 party killing low level scum will get minimal XP. Unfortunately if you have a lev 1 joining the lev 20 it means the lev 1 character will also get minimal XP, which actually encourages people to play solo instead of co-op.

T2 on the other hand seems to adjust XP gain based on an individual level (instead of a party level like D3), meaning it's easier to level up a low level buddy as they are getting full XP for each critter kill. It also allows up to 6 people to party up. This doesn't really affect single player people but for us where we like being in a team (and levelling up our allies to our level) this method obviously works better.

Difficulty:
As a group neither game is actually overly difficult. Had more deaths in T2 simply because it lets us go straight to the "elite" mode that we enjoy. D3 however forces people to play through "normal" mode first, and upon each completion of the game unlocks a harder tier. Tobold put up a post on Unlockable Difficulty and I pretty much agree with him in that it's a stupid idea. Once I've finished the plot line, what's the point in playing it again? Grinding numbers?

The D3 developers were either very lazy, or very arrogant in thinking theirs is the only game in town in this regard. With so many other games to play, I've seen no reason yet to replay this one. T2 definitely wins this category.

Bonus Stuff:
D3 has the Auction House which is pretty nifty though self defeating in my opinion. After looking at the wares available I've concluded that crafting, buying stuff from NPCs and grinding through all the random, non essential dungeons is a waste of time. Why would you bother when you can deck yourself out in full unique gear for an ultimately paltry sum of gold? Still, I like it since it saves time and puts all those coins to work.

T2 has no auction house or crafting meaning all those loot drops are slightly more important because you WILL need to find better gear (encouraging you to venture into all those dungeons). However what it does have are PETS. Everyone starts with a cute pet NPC who helps carry stuff, fight, and most importantly can go back to town on their own to SELL AND BUY stuff. This is frigging fantastic since it means the flow of combat doesn't need to be broken by merchanting runs back to town.

So, in the end while both games are pretty cool and both fun, in the end I think Torchlight II is simply better designed overall, which is kinda wierd when you think about it.

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